Day #99 – Mustard Cheeks

Opposite of yesterday – hyposensitivty to oral stimulation.  These children (and adults) have low oral tone and little awareness of what’s going on inside of (and around) their mouth.  It’s this sort of oral numbness that also causes speech delays.  Who knew?  I didn’t…until I began researching.  I began writing this blog hoping to answer questions for folks just getting started on their own journey with autism (whether parenting, teaching, neighboring, or simply caring).  Tucker’s language delay and his mustard (yes…he prefers mustard over ketchup) laden cheeks are actually related?!?!?

hahahahaha…I love meme’s.

When a child is ‘under-sensitive’ to stimuli they have trouble processing information through their senses.  Remember ‘crashing’ – these children crash because they are trying to stimulate themselves enough to feel  (See Day #11 – Crash Into Me) .  Hyposensitivty to oral stimulation is much the same. How does it manifest?

Well, honestly – it’s a bit embarrassing.  You may see me still wiping Tucker’s face or mouth.  His face is a source of hyposensitivity – he literally cannot feel when something is on his face.  For some reason his brain doesn’t recognize the sensation-and you know, I’m not entirely sure I really care why.  It is his reality, it’s where we are.  So, let’s just help him…you and me, eh?

So, when you see him after a spaghetti rush or an ice cream cone yumfest or an absolute mustard cheekfest…just gently remind him to wipe his face.  He can’t feel that there is food on his face.  It’s true, I’m not joking.  He would spend an entire day with a giant mustard swath on his cheek…because he doesn’t feel it.  So, gently remind him – not only to wipe, but where. Remember?  He can’t feel it – so telling him to wipe his face is fairly pointless.

How do we help him?  Well, first of all (and most obvious) don’t make him feel guilt or shame.  If we are out in public (or he is at your house) gently remind him to  go check his face in a mirror, that he has something on his chin.  Just like that, just matter of fact – he gets logic.  Then, let it go – please don’t make him feel sad or embarrassed for something that is beyond his control.

Checklist from

_X_ may lick, taste, or chew on inedible objects
_X_ prefers foods with intense flavor; i.e., excessively spicy, sweet, sour, or salty
_X_ excessive drooling past the teething stage
_X_ frequently chews on hair, shirt, or fingers
_X_ constantly putting objects in mouth past the toddler years
__ acts as if all foods taste the same
_X_ can never get enough condiments or seasonings on his/her food
__ loves vibrating toothbrushes and even trips to the dentist
__ may actually avoid mixed textures as well since it is difficult to chew and swallow properly when you can’t “feel” the food in your mouth correctly
_X__messy eaters; getting food all over their face and/or leaving bits of food in their mouths at the end of a meal
_X__they often take large bites and stuff their mouths, or even “pocket” food in their cheeks
_X__are inclined to not chew their food thoroughly before swallowing (at risk for choking)
_X__ always seem to have something in their mouths; toys, pens, pencil tips, gum, candy, or inedible objects (i.e., paper clips, rubber bands, shirt sleeves and collars, strings…anything!)

10 thoughts on “Day #99 – Mustard Cheeks

    • Does she also take large bites? Yesterday at a Christmas celebration I kept having to remind Tucker to sllloooow down and take smaller bites. Seriously, he was trying to eat half a steak fillet at a time. So frustrating – but we just have to keep trying and love them through it, right?!! Good luck over the holidays!!


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